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The Lilac Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
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The Lilac Fairy Book

Edited by Andrew Lang


'What cases are you engaged in at present?' 'Are you stopping
many teeth just now?' 'What people have you converted lately?'
Do ladies put these questions to the men--lawyers, dentists,
clergymen, and so forth--who happen to sit next them at
dinner parties?

I do not know whether ladies thus indicate their interest in the
occupations of their casual neighbours at the hospitable board.
But if they do not know me, or do not know me well, they
generally ask 'Are you writing anything now?' (as if they should
ask a painter 'Are you painting anything now?' or a lawyer 'Have
you any cases at present?'). Sometimes they are more definite and
inquire 'What are you writing now?' as if I must be writing
something--which, indeed, is the case, though I dislike being
reminded of it. It is an awkward question, because the fair being
does not care a bawbee what I am writing; nor would she be much
enlightened if I replied 'Madam, I am engaged on a treatise
intended to prove that Normal is prior to Conceptional Totemism'-
-though that answer would be as true in fact as obscure in